Admissions - Ph.D. in Literature

UC Davis Graduate Admission Application is now closed for Fall 2021

The deadline was January 5, 2021

The Ph.D. program recevied 183 submitted applications that are currently being reviewed.  For more information about your application status, please check online or contact the graduate program staff

Graduate Studies' Frequently Asked Questions page covers most general admissions questions, but feel free to contact program staff for more details.

Application Requirements

  • Writing sample

  • Statement of Purpose

  • Personal History & Diversity Statement

  • Three letters of recommendation

  • TOEFL or IELTS scores, if applicable

  • Copies of transcripts

  • Application Fee: $120 for U.S. and $140 for international applicants

The GRE requirement has been removed for applications to the Ph.D. program!

Please note UC Davis only offers application fee waivers to applicants who have participated in specific graduate preparation programs. Applicants who are affiliated with these programs must indicate their participation AND must provide the name and contact information for their program coordinator in the relevant section of the online application system to receive a fee waiver. 

UC Davis requires that applicants to all graduate programs submit both a Statement of Purpose and a Personal History and Diversity Statement. Each essay can be no longer than 4,000 characters including spaces. 

Statement of Purpose

Please highlight your academic preparation and motivation; interests, specializations, and career goals; and fit for pursuing graduate study at UC Davis.

Preparation and Motivation: may include your academic and research experiences that prepare you for this graduate program (for example coursework, employment, exhibitions, fieldwork, foreign language proficiency, independent study, internships, laboratory activities, presentations, publications, studio projects, teaching, and travel or study abroad) and motivation or passion for graduate study.

Interests, Specializations, and Career Goals: may include your research interests, disciplinary subfields, area/s of specialization, and professional objectives.

Fit: may include how your preparation, experiences, and interests match the specific resources and characteristics of your graduate program at UC Davis. Please identify specific faculty within your desired graduate program with whom you would like to work and how their interests match your own.

Personal History and Diversity Statement

The University of California Davis, a public institution, is committed to supporting the diversity of the graduate student body and promoting equal opportunity in higher education. This commitment furthers the educational mission to serve the increasingly diverse population and educational needs of California and the nation. Both the Vice Provost of Graduate Education/Dean of Graduate Studies and the University of California affirm that diversity is critical to promoting lively intellectual exchange and the variety of ideas and perspectives essential to advancing higher education and research. Our graduate students contribute to the global pool of future scholars and academic leaders, thus high value is placed on achieving a diverse graduate student body to support the University of California’s academic excellence. We invite you to include in this statement how you may contribute to the diversification of graduate education and the UC Davis community.

The purpose of this essay is to get to know you as an individual and a potential graduate student. Please describe how your personal background informs your decision to pursue a graduate degree. You may include any educational, familial, cultural, economic, or social experiences, challenges, community service, outreach activities, residency and citizenship, first-generation college status, or opportunities relevant to your academic journey; how your life experiences contribute to the social, intellectual, or cultural diversity within a campus community and your chosen field; or how you might serve educationally underrepresented and underserved segments of society with your graduate education.


Three Letters of Recommendation

  • From professors or other persons situated to speak about your potential for graduate study


  • Copies are allowed - if admitted, you’ll be required to send official transcripts

  • UC Davis requires academic records from each college-level institution you have attended - instructions can be found here

Writing Sample

  • One-two research or term papers written for English courses; the total should not exceed 30 pages excluding images and bibliography

Prospective students may also submit a Fellowship Application after applying to the program. 


All Applicants: Please review the UC Davis Graduate Studies Admissions & Application page in addition to the program requirements listed above.

International Applicants: Please review the following application information from the UC Davis Office of Graduate Studies. 

Funding Your Ph.D.

All students admitted to the Ph.D. program are provided funding in the form of Teaching Assistant and Associate Instructor positions.  These appointments provide a partial tuition waiver and monthly salary.  A limited amount of Graduate Student Researcher positions are available each year where students assist faculty with various projects.

First year nonresident students receive a supplemental tuition fellowship.  Second year students who come to Davis from out of state are expected to establish residency during their first year.

International student are also subject to nonresident supplemental tuition (NRST).  We will pay the NRST for a total of three quarters during the first year.  Within that time period, payment of the NRST is dependent on making progress in the program.  Assuming students make normal progress their NRST is waived after the first year.  If they fail to pass the qualifying examination and do not advance to candidacy by the end of their third year, the NRST will return to them and will be responsible for paying this fee.

Departmental funds are also available, such as the Miller Travel Fund, for students to attend conferences, interviews and conduct research.  Additional progress-based and summer language and travel fellowship stipends are awarded with funding allocated to us by Graduate Studies.

The UC Davis Humanities Institute offers fellowships students can apply for to fund their projects.  Admitted students are also considered for University-wide fellowships.


Ph.D. Program Requirements
Designated Emphases We Offer


For the Fall 2020 cohort, we recevied 152 applications, admitted 28, 3 are deferring until 2021, and 10 students have enrolled.  The previous year, 163 applications were submitted of which 24 were offered admissions and 8 students matriculated.  


Questions? Contact Us

Aaron Barstow
Department of English
Ph.D. Program in Literature
(530) 752-2738

Will Angel
Department of English
MFA Program in Creative Writing
(530) 752-2281